Ninth General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT 5, 2001 (VIS) - The Ninth General Congregation of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began at 5 p.m. today, in the presence of the Pope and 247 synod fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Bernard Agre, archbishop of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Following are extracts from several of the speeches given:

ARCHBISHOP VINCENT MICHAEL CONCESSAO OF DELHI, INDIA. "With the present trend of globalization the situation of the poor is getting worse. Small industries are closed down depriving thousands of people of gainful employment; the state-spending on the basic requirements of the poor is reduced as part of the structural adjustment program; the poor are getting further marginalized and driven to despair. They become easy victims to politicians and fundamentalists. Do we have a message of hope for them, not just in words but in concrete action programs? ... There is a frightening sentence in the Second Vatican Council from the Decree of Gratian: 'Feed the man dying of hunger because if you are not feeding him, you are killing him. It is a case of murder by omission'. ... Should we not take a clear stand with and for the poor and against the system in which they do not count? It will be part of our commitment to a culture of life and a civilization of love. Our reasons for hope must be reflected in our celebration of the Word and the sacraments and also in our day-to-day interaction with people. Matthew was a tax collector, a social outcast. Jesus calls him: 'Come, follow me'. Matthew follows him and is transformed. Another example is Zaccheus. Overwhelmed by the gesture of Jesus he is changed. Our ministry is to pass on hope to all."

FR. PETER-HANS KOLVENBACH, S.J., SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS. "Some considerations on interreligious dialogue: ... The Instrumentum Laboris underlines the responsibility of the bishop in teaching by words and example the real meaning of dialogue. Through pastoral letters and public statements taking into account interreligious dialogue, the bishop teaches the faithful of his diocese the meaning and the practice of dialogue, its motivations, its possibilities and its conditions. The bishop teaches by willingness to meet persons of other religions and to discuss with them; by the desire to make joint statements on major topics; by the desire to work together for peace and reconciliation, always ready - according to the Spirit of the Lord - to take the first step. The bishop also teaches by setting up in the diocese an efficient commission for dialogue, by welcoming the festivities of the other religions and willingly receiving their visits during Christian celebrations, and finally by ensuring an adequate preparation so that the members of different religions may live together in seminaries, faculties and houses for the formation of the consecrated life. The Holy Father has now opened so many doors in this way that have been closed for centuries. Our Lord's way of acting is a model for dialogue. His dialogue with the Samaritan and the discovery of the faith by a Roman soldier are just two examples of the Word of God which proposes rather than impose the good news. ... The bishop is called upon to teach this love, humble and often humiliating, which nurtures dialogue, repeating - especially in circumstances of violence and polarization - the truth of the Gospel, proclaiming that the Lord loves everyone without exception; that we cannot resort to violence in the name of a Christ who loves, and that it is the sincere love for others in the Spirit that must characterize Christians in participating in dialogue which bears witness to Christian love."

CARDINAL FRIEDRICH WETTER, ARCHBISHOP OF MUNICH AND FREISING, GERMANY. "The Christological and pneumatic dimensions of this episcopal office must be emphasized today in particular. In fact, currents exist today that try to diminish the spiritual office of the Church to a merely organizational function. To combat this ecclesiological relativism, we must be firmly anchored to the sacramental aspect of the episcopal office, which is also valid for the priesthood and the diaconate. To more effectively correspond to this magisterium of collegiality, I would like to reflect on the following: 1. During the first centuries for the ordination of a bishop, the vote of the bishops of the ecclesiastic province was decisive, as an expression of episcopal collegiality. Unfortunately, according to the practice today, these are no longer taken into consideration. ... For this reason I wish to propose: before the apostolic nuncio sends the terna to Rome, the council of bishops of the ecclesial province should meet and send its decisions to the Apostolic See together with its vote. Thus, the free choice of the Holy Father will remain unaffected. 2. The synod's work should be more concise. Therefore, I propose that a concrete number of problems be dealt with, which are important for the entire Church and which are still waiting to be clarified. 3. As pertains to collegiality, even in the local Churches the intimate unity of the apostolic office must be theologically studied more deeply in an analogous way which also has an effect on the spirituality of priests and deacons. In this way, a dangerous individualistic reduction of the understanding of the spiritual mandate may be avoided."

CARDINAL FRANCOIS XAVIER NGUYEN VAN THUAN, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE. "The new world scene requires from us bishops an increased spiritual and pastoral discernment on how and what the Church can do in terms of proclamation and presence. I think it is urgent for everyone to agree with the precious spiritual and pastoral orientations of the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, one of the most stimulating fruits of the experience of the Great Jubilee. I refer above all to the precious indication of a greater holiness of life which also involves a growth in the commitment and witness of works of charity and solidarity. Above all in these areas in which there is a strong tendency to take ways that have no outlet, the Church must increasingly emphasize how, without a return to the Gospel, there can be no solution to the dramatic problems connected with the defense and promotion of human rights, the resolution of the numerous and bloody conflicts and the urgent need to give concrete answers to the poverty of billions of human beings. Socially oriented evangelization, which has its basic instrument in the social doctrine of the Church, needs a more timely consideration which takes into due account the developments in cultural, economic and political matters, on the national and international level, upon which the Catholic Church must increasingly reflect in order to effectively update its message of justice and peace. In this regard it is more opportune than ever to intensify the reference and connection of the social magisterium of the bishops with the universal magisterium of the Holy Father, in order to achieve a coherent teaching, unified in its foundations and inspiring principles."

CARDINAL FREDERIC ETSOU-NZABI-BAMUNGWABI, C.I.C.M., ARCHBISHOP OF KINSHASA, PRESIDENT OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO. "Living in the midst of his people, the African bishop shares their joys and sufferings, hopes and anguish. He plays an important role in the construction of a civilization of love and the kingdom of God in Africa. ... Called to be the promoter of inculturation of faith, the bishop must encourage the theologians who, with their reflections and research, elaborate an authentic African theology. As for the remainder, one hopes that the various offices of the Roman dicasteries manifest greater attention to the distribution of subsidies, since we often lack the material means for creating the basic infrastructures for the deeper evangelization of the African individual. ... We hope that relations between the apostolic nunciatures and the Roman dicasteries and the diocesan bishops may be characterized by a more fraternal collaboration and by a true pastoral solicitude, maintaining the respect of competencies. ... We also hope that the different national and regional episcopal conferences may draw up and submit to the secretary of state the 'profile of the apostolic nuncio', to be accredited in this new millennium in any geographical and cultural site. This is a necessity of communion and collegiality between the particular churches and the various dicasteries of the Holy See."

ARCHBISHOP ORLANDO B. QUEVEDO, O.M.I., ARCHBISHOP OF COTABATO, PRESIDENT OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE, PHILIPPINES. "To image the poor Jesus today, we bishops must also be with the poor to present Jesus as their hope. We have to become their moral voice, defending their rights and denouncing social injustices. We need to share their anguish, reflect, pray, and act with them. We must not allow class distinctions in the sacraments. Above all we need to be poor. This requires profound conversion of heart so that we may have the mind set and the values of the poor Christ, his simplicity and austerity, his total freedom from riches, his love of preference for the poor, his lack of ambition for honors; his complete trust in God his Father. These are basic elements of a spirituality of poverty."

Vatican Information Service
5. oktober 2001

av Webmaster publisert 08.10.2001, sist endret 08.10.2001 - 16:01